Whether looking forward to conceiving a baby or avoiding pregnancy, you must know when you are most fertile during your menstrual cycle. If you want to conceive, you can plan to have intercourse during this time to improve your odds of conception. Predict ovulation using these six easy methods listed below.
You are the most fertile a few days before and the day after you ovulate. If you know when you will ovulate, you can easily predict this fertile window. That said, little outward signs exist that indicate ovulation. Hence, it can be difficult to know exactly when you have ovulated during your cycle and predict your fertility window.
Fortunately, there are ways to know exactly when you have ovulated and determine your fertility window. Before we can talk in detail about how to predict ovulation, we must refresh our knowledge about how ovulation occurs in the first place.
In this article, we discuss the methods that are commonly used to predict ovulation and determine your fertility window.
How does ovulation occur?
Ovulation is the term given to the phenomenon by which a mature egg is released from your ovary during your menstrual cycle. Once the egg is released after ovulation, it has about 24 hours to get fertilised by the sperm. If it fails to do so within this period, the egg will die off, and you will have to wait for ovulation during your next menstrual cycle.
For most women with a menstrual cycle lasting 28 days, ovulation occurs around day 14, the middle of the cycle. However, no two women are the same, and neither are their menstrual cycles. It is common to have menstrual cycles lasting anywhere between 21 and 35 days. The time of ovulation, thus, will vary in women having cycles that are significantly longer or shorter than the standard 28 days.
Unlike men, who can produce sperm throughout their lives, women are born with all the eggs they can produce, and only a fraction of these eggs will have a chance to be fertilised and lead to pregnancy.
The benefits of knowing your exact ovulation day
If you want to increase the odds of getting pregnant, it is important to have intercourse at the right time. As the egg is viable over a 12-24 hour window post-ovulation, the sperm must be available at the right time to fertilise the egg. If you want to give yourself the best chance of getting pregnant, you should plan to have intercourse during your fertility window, which starts five days before ovulation and includes the day of ovulation and the day after.
Ovulation & menstrual cycle
Ovulation is a carefully orchestrated menstrual cycle process controlled by a hormone battery. The menstrual cycle, in general, is controlled by hormones that are released by the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.
The whole process starts with the hypothalamus releasing a hormone called the Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) that stimulates the pituitary to release Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). Under the influence of these hormones, the female reproductive system undergoes changes that lead to the release of the egg and readies the body for the potential pregnancy.
The changing levels of these hormones trigger certain changes in your body, such as changing the colour and consistency of the mucus, changes to your basal body temperature, the composition of the electrolytes in your vagina, and saliva crystallisation. These changes can be potentially used to determine the time of ovulation during your menstrual cycle.
Six Ways to predict ovulation
Knowing when you ovulate is a great benefit if you are trying to conceive. But the question is, how can you tell exactly when it happens? Well, there are many ways by which you can accurately predict your ovulation day and detect your fertility window. You can opt for a method that suits your lifestyle and convenience.
Calendar method to predict ovulation
It is the most straightforward method of predicting ovulation. For a woman who has a 28-day long menstrual cycle, the ovulation, in all likelihood, will happen 14 days before her next period. Therefore, if you track your period for several months, you can get a fairly good idea of the average length of your period and, therefore, can predict when you will ovulate.
Although the calendar method is very easy and convenient, it is not the most reliable method of predicting ovulation. There are differences in the lengths of your menstrual cycle on a month-by-month basis, and it can be difficult to predict ovulation day accurately. It takes diligent tracking of your menstrual cycle for over a year to be in a position to predict ovulation with some degree of accuracy. Other methods are far more accurate than the calendar method, but the convenience of this method makes it quite popular among women trying to get pregnant.
Basal Body Temperature Monitoring
The Basal Body Temperature, or BBT, is your body’s resting temperature. It is generally measured when you wake up before you are up and about. Your basal body temperature rises by usually less than 0.5 degrees Celsius before you ovulate. If you keep a chart of your basal body temperature readings from every day of your menstrual cycle before ovulation, it can be predicted when you ovulate.
As with the calendar method, it is important to have baseline temperature readings to establish a ‘normal range. Another thing to be aware of is that as the temperature rise is only about 0.5 degrees Celsius, you will need a special thermometer to observe it. Fertility2Family offers the best basal body thermometer that you can purchase at a reasonable price. It is laboratory tested to give accurate basal body temperature readings, allowing you to predict your fertility window easily.
One potential problem with the basal body temperature method of ovulation prediction is that your body temperature can change for reasons other than ovulation. Physical exercise, weather conditions, and illness can significantly influence the basal body temperature.
Hormone Testing for ovulation prediction
Ovulation is triggered by a sudden release of Luteinizing hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland. Luteinising hormone suddenly increases in the blood, and a small amount is excreted in the urine. Home ovulation prediction kits (OPKs) can detect the excreted LH to indicate ovulation. Fertility2Family offers one of the best OPKs in Australia that can accurately detect even the smallest amounts of LH in the urine. Our OPKs are laboratory tested and provide a reliable ovulation prediction at a fraction of the cost. An ovulation test has been proven to be the most accurate and the least invasive way to detect your LH surge and, therefore, your peak fertile window.
Tracking cervical mucus changes to predict ovulation
Checking the colour and consistency of the cervical mucus to predict ovulation is quite a popular method of ovulation prediction. As you approach the day of ovulation, there are significant changes in the colour and consistency of the cervical mucus. Right around ovulation, the cervical mucus appears clear and stretchy and resembles the texture of uncooked egg whites.
If you keep track of your cervical mucus’s nature, colour, and consistency throughout the cycle, you can notice these changes around ovulation. As with the calendar and BBT methods, consistent monitoring is the key to success. You need to ensure you know how mucus appears during most of your cycle to observe the changes when they occur.
If you are starting, it can be difficult to observe any changes in the cervical mucus. However, as you gain more and more experience, you will get better at it. If you want to know more about using this method, please check out our article on how to check your cervix at home.
Saliva crystallisation to track ovulation
It is a method of ovulation prediction that involves observing your saliva under a microscope. The principle is based on the fact that as you approach ovulation, the oestrogen level in your body increases, and so does the sodium level. An increased sodium level causes crystallisation or ‘ferning’ of your saliva. If you observe your saliva under the microscope, you can see the crystals forming that resemble the leaves of a fern (hence the term ferning).
As this method involves using a microscope, which is not available for everyone to use, it is a method that is not very popular. Besides, inferring any information from this test requires some degree of training. Suffice it to say it is not a method of choice for most women trying to conceive.
Tracking changes in the vagina electrolytes to track ovulation
This is another method that requires a special instrument to predict ovulation. The method is based on the fact that the electrolyte balance of your vagina will change during ovulation. The method involves tracking the electrolyte composition of your cervical mucus throughout your menstrual cycle using special monitoring equipment.
The last three methods discussed are secondary, as they predict ovulation based on your body’s response to increased oestrogen. As many factors influence the body’s response to estrogen, the secondary methods are less reliable than the hormone method.
Best Way to Predict Ovulation When Trying to Conceive?
The best way to predict ovulation is the one most suited to your needs and goals. Hormone testing is one of the easiest and fastest methods to predict ovulation for women considering getting pregnant. Fertility2Family ovulation tests (OPKs) are fast, reliable, and cheap that can be conveniently used at home to predict ovulation accurately.
The calendar and the cervical mucus methods are also good if you are prepared to have a meticulous record of your observations. Both ways can help keep tabs on your general reproductive health apart from being good methods to predict ovulation.
Fertility2Family is your go-to resource for understanding the intricacies of fertility and ovulation. Our extensive blog Fertility2Family Blog provides valuable insights into the various methods of predicting ovulation, as outlined in this article. We offer a range of products to support your fertility journey, including ovulation tests and fertility kits. Ovulation Tests and Fertility Kits help you accurately identify your fertility window and increase your chances of conception.
Evan is the founder of Fertility2Family and is passionate about fertility education & providing affordable products to help people in their fertility journey. Evan is a qualified enrolled nurse and has expertise in guiding & managing patients through their fertility journeys.